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Single-Mindedness Pays Off

September 21, 2000|From Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia — What a great night for Marty Nothstein. He won a gold medal in the match sprint, boosting a U.S. cycling program that traditionally lags behind the Europeans and Australians. He beat the German rival who relegated him to a silver medal in Atlanta.

And he got a special prize when he took his son, Tyler, for a victory lap after the awards ceremony.

"He was hanging on pretty tight," Nothstein said with a big smile. "I told him Daddy just won a gold medal and he gave me a big kiss."

Nothstein, of Trexlertown, Pa., won the men's match sprint Wednesday, delivering the first Olympic cycling gold for the United States since the boycott-marred Los Angeles Games in 1984.

He defeated Florian Rousseau of France, 2-0, in the finals. In the semifinals, Nothstein defeated Jens Fiedler of Germany, 2-0, to avenge a loss, by a tire width, that cost him a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics.

"I've been waiting for this day for four years," Nothstein said. "Jens beat me in '96, and it has haunted me every day since. Every sit-up I did, every pound I lifted, I've been thinking of this race."

Nothstein was strictly business on his way to the gold, focusing on it obsessively through years of training. When he reached the starting line in Sydney, he was relaxed and ready to ride.

"It was all confidence," said Gil Hatton, a longtime personal coach. "Marty has worked extremely hard for this."

Nothstein yelled in joy and pumped his fist as he crossed the finish line. While he continued on a victory lap, Hatton leaped on the track's skirt as the Australian fans cheered.

When Nothstein saw his wife, Christi, son Tyler and daughter Devin in the audience after his victory, he rode to them for hugs and kisses. And he couldn't hold back the tears.

"For years, I've been thinking of only one thing," Nothstein said. "Ever since I was a little boy, I've wanted to win a gold medal in the Olympics."

To get it, Nothstein spent months away from home every year for training and racing. Since arriving in Sydney, he has seen little of his family. He rented an apartment to minimize potential distractions.

"I've had to have a lot of discipline and make a lot of sacrifices," he said. "I've had to be committed to myself 100%."

Nothstein hopes the payoff for his hard work, coming on the heels of Lance Armstrong's second consecutive victory in the Tour de France, includes a publicity boost that attracts new riders to American cycling.

"It's no secret that besides myself and Lance, we're not very deep, especially in track cycling," Nothstein said.

Nothstein's success was extremely important to team officials. Take away Los Angeles, where the U.S. won three events, and the Americans hadn't won Olympic gold since 1904.

"Hopefully, some kid is going to be watching Marty on TV in the States and then want to come out to a track and give it a ride," said Sean Petty, director of the U.S. Olympic cycling team.

"That was a good haul in 1984. Other than that, it was a really long time without a gold medal."

It was fitting that Nothstein pulled the United States out of its drought. With three world titles and 22 national championships, he's the most dominant American to ride on a track.

"There have been a lot of sacrifices, a lot of tears," he said.

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